"Charlotte's Web" at the Arden Theatre

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - December 15, 2011

It's a beloved book and an animated video, but now it's a live action play at the Arden Theatre in Old City.

As it often does, the Arden uses minimal costumes and props, instead letting the strength of the characters tell the story.

Aubie Merrylees plays the lead character, Wilbur the Pig, who deals with disappointments, challenges and fears with the help of friends, notably Charlotte the Spider who ultimately saves his life.

His costume "suggests" a pig and he gets to go through some pig-like behavior....rolling around the barnyard and enjoying a good "slop". But the human side of the issues he faces come through strongly in the minimalist atmosphere.

Associate Producer Matthew Decker says the company...the same people who present five main stage productions a year for older audiences...benefits from performing for children.

Decker says children are frank with the cast and don't hide their feelings. If they like something, they're not afraid to laugh, or cheer, or applaud. If not, they might read their program or do something else which lets the people on stage know they're no longer engaged. So the process keeps the cast honest.

"Charlotte's Web" is live on stage at the Arden through January 29th.

There's a complete list of performances and a link to the box office on their website, Arden Theatre.

There, you'll also find links to the Arden's drama school for kids, and information about the company's outreach to teachers and schools.

Teachers often use a book like "Charlotte's Web" in class before taking kids to see the show. And the Arden sometimes sends performers into schools to whet a young audience's appetite.

At the theatre, the cast visits with the audience after the show and will answer kids' questions. You may also phone the box office at 215-922-1122.

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